Discipline And Spirit Return To Champions Chelsea’s Side

It’s fair to say that Chelsea were expected to perform better against Burnley in their opening Premier League fixture. But the champions lost their discipline, shape and ultimately the game.

Talk of a crisis has hovered over the club ever since.

Next up was an away day to face last season’s runners-up Tottenham Hotspur, who managed to record a comfortable 2-0 away win at Newcastle United.

Now while Spurs dominated possession and created chances against Chelsea, the champs managed to stay focussed and come away with the victory.

It was a performance that reminded me of the run that saw Chelsea secure the league title last season.

They were dogged, players stuck to their roles and they didn’t panic.

They took the lead through a fantastic free-kick from Marcos Alonso in the twenty-fourth minute. The Lilywhites finally made their superior possession and numbers of chances created count, when Christian Eriksen’s set-play was headed into his own net by Michy Batshuayi with just eight minutes remaining.

The Blues didn’t down tools or lose their heads as they had done just a week earlier against Burnley. No they managed to get themselves back into the game.

Then on the eighty-eighth minute, Spanish wing-back Alonso popped up again and this time his goal was enough to secure all three points at Wembley.

It was fitting that it was twenty-six year old Alonso that grabbed the all important brace.

The left-sided player embodies the spirit that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wants to see from his players. The wing-back gets his head down and does what’s expected of him, actually he probably plays above expectations. He’s a committed footballer and gives his all for the jersey.

Everyone in Blue were fully committed and that’s what got them through. It’s not as easy as people think, to sit back, soak up pressure and then take your chances when they come.

One slip in concentration and it could ruin your whole game plan.

Conte deserves credit for getting his side back into the right frame of mind and by tweaking the system with a new 3-5-1-1 formation.

If a club is truly in crisis then they rarely come away with a win like that. They don’t play for their manager and don’t show such mental strength.

The Chelsea boss was delighted with his side’s display:

‘I want to thank my players, everyone, because they showed me great desire, great spirit, great will, and great heart,’

Against your main rivals, getting the win is the most important thing. Those victories could be the difference between top spot and not getting your hands on the league trophy. It’s all very well having all of the ball like Spurs and Arsenal had this weekend but if you don’t convert that into wins then it’s utterly pointless (literally).

The opening day defeat to Burnley was no doubt a wake-up call for the champions and it would’ve hurt everyone at Stamford Bridge.

Getting right back to winning ways against a team like Tottenham is just the response Antonio Conte would have craved and he’ll hope that they can use that result as a springboard to gain some much needed momentum as they look to defend their title!

Arsenal Being Arsenal Again!

Arsenal a far from boring these days but maybe the Gunner’s support would prefer the predicability of 1-0 wins if it meant more success for the club.

The North London side managed to edge Leicester City in the first Premier League game of the season but their defence didn’t impress in the 4-3 victory.

Yesterday they couldn’t find away past a stubborn Stoke City side. The Arsenal midfield fell asleep just after half-time and the defence was once again a weak-link as Jese grabbed a winner on his Stoke debut.

We’ve seen this story so many times from the Gunners under Arsene Wenger, especially in recent seasons.

They dominated possession having 77% of the ball. They had eighteen shots compared to Stoke’s eleven but Wenger’s side only had six on target.

Now the signings of Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac are good but are they enough to get the club back into the top four and challenging for the league title?

The contract sagas that surround Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a distraction no one at the Emirates needs.

The real issue seems that the squad look mentally fragile. They often lack belief that they can go to the trenches with teams and win dogged ties.

As I’ve said they still look vulnerable at the back. Granit Xhaka still needs to improve when he’s protecting in front of his defenders. Darren Fletcher was much more influential in that role for the Potters yesterday.

Wenger at least admitted his side were hopeless at the back for the Stoke goal:

‘First by losing the ball and then we didn’t defend properly.’

‘Last week we conceded three goals from three shots. Today we have to look at ourselves.’

It’s all very well having over 75% of the ball but if you can’t find the net with it then it’s pointless, especially if you can’t score in the other end.

Wenger blamed the referee’s performance for the result and the Frenchman always has excuses but the fact is that his side don’t create enough clear cut chances and the longer a games goes without a goal the more panicked things become.

At a top club like Arsenal the attitude should always be about the team and what they do. Officials will always have off days or give things against you, if you can’t deal with that and remain composed then you won’t win titles. It’s about meeting adversity and rising above it.

They haven’t won their opening two league games since 2009-10 and that’s simply not good enough. After stating things would change after Wenger’s contract extension, nothing actually has. They are still a good team but not a great unit.

Teams like Stoke and Leicester know that they’ll create chances against the Gunners and they also know that Arsenal won’t finish teams off as they should given the amount of possession they have in games. No side really fears this Arsenal side and that’s the truth.

I believe that Wenger’s era changed during the move to the Emirates. They went from a lethal side feared throughout Europe to a team that were no longer ruthless or hungry for titles.

Arsene knew he had to be a bit more frugal in the transfer market and that he had to be safe in the Premier League, qualifying for the Champions League was the new target. In that period Wenger did extremely well and protected the club by taking on so much of the responsibility.

But once the stadium move was safely negotiated and the club’s funds were once again strong, the team failed to rediscover that winning, ruthless mentality.

The club are in a rut and it could be a slump that sees them again struggle this term.

Pretty football will only get you so far but they need to be clinical and need to show desire while in the battle. I just don’t think they have it in them and I’m not sure Wenger has it in him to turn things around to get them back in the title picture.

Man City Game Will Show Us If Rooney Can Work Wonders At Everton

Wayne Rooney has arrived back on Merseyside with a renewed confidence.

The all-time leading England goalscorer looked to be struggling at Manchester United for much of last season but it seems his return to Everton seems to be just the tonic he was looking for.

Rooney scored the winner on the opening day of the Premier League season as the Toffees consigned Stoke City to an early defeat.

The forward came deep to help start the move that led to his goal. As the ball worked it’s way to the lefthand side, Everton’s number ten sprinted into the box hoping to help the team’s attack. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross was expertly met by Rooney’s head as he steered it beyond fellow England international Jack Butland.

You could see in his overjoyed celebration that the strike meant the world to Rooney. To get back at Goodison, prove some doubters wrong and prove his fans right was huge for him. It also gives him a much needed confidence boost.

Wayne was used in behind main striker Sandro alongside Davy Klaassen and they all linked up well. Rooney looked to have added freedom in his game, knowing he had Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin sweeping up behind him.

Thirty-one year old Rooney looked like a man amongst boys during much of the game. He was finding space and he was also keeping the ball. Last term he was often derided because he wasn’t getting enough touches of the ball and making enough successful passes. In the win over Stoke, he had an 86% passing success rate and he made forty-nine passes during the ninety minutes as well as five crosses.

This isn’t the same Wayne Rooney that left Goodison Park in 2003. That Wayne was was unpredictable, raw and a force of nature. He has returned coached and well drilled in winning football matches and titles.

You could see that Rooney is already influencing this Toffees squad. He can help dictate things and his experience can be vital as Everton chase a top four finish or maybe a cup.

His boss Ronald Koeman said as much after their first victory of the campaign:

“We did not sign Wayne because he will score 25 goals-a-season, no he will bring experience, winning mentality and cleverness to the team. That is the main reason we signed Wayne.”

It certainly worked wonders against Stoke as he won the man of the match award and he led the line well against Hajduk Split in the Europa League with Wayne creating a nice assist for Gueye.

But can his experience influence the really big games? 

Well on Monday night Everton take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

The blue half of Merseyside actually had the upper hand over the blue half of Manchester last term but City look to be progressing under Pep. They usually dictate games and have high numbers in their possession column.

Koeman will hope that Rooney can use his experience to help those around him, keep mistakes to a minimum and punish any mistakes that Man City may have with a goal or a key pass.

It won’t be easy as City will press him and not allow him as much space has he found against the Potters.

If the returning Wayne Rooney can produce a fine performance against a top four side like City then surely that will once again prove any doubters wrong.

It could also see him back in Gareth Southgate’s England squad and not many thought that would happen after he was left out of the international fixtures in June.

Hopefully Wayne can continue to have a positive influence on this Everton team and shine once again at Goodison. Knowing that he going to start games should see his upturn in form continue but he has to keep showing that with goals, assists and keeping possession for his club!

Man United Finally Killing Games Off!

Two Premier League games in and Manchester United have won 4-0 in each of their opening fixtures.

In their first game they thrashed West Ham United at Old Trafford. Today they managed to overrun a resilient Swansea City side at the Liberty Stadium.

Last year they only managed fifty-four goals in the league and they only scored four on one occasion during the 2016-17 Premier League season. They needed to make some changes.

United started last term with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney as their main attackers but as a duo they lacked fluidity and speed to cause enough problems. Don’t get me wrong Zlatan led the line magnificently and I think he’ll re-sign for the Red Devils when he returns from injury but at times they needed more pace and a different focal point.

Jose splashed the cash and brought in Romelu Lukaku for £75m this summer. The Belgian has came in and scored three in his first two league games. He offers both power and pace up-top and seems to thrive wearing a Man United jersey.

The international striker has also linked up well with those around him.

Signing Nemanja Matic has offered more freedom to Paul Pogba to venture forward. The French midfielder has bagged two goals and an assist in the opening encounters.Holding midfielder Matic is fast becoming an important member of the first team as he offers discipline and balance to the side.

It might have taken a bit of time for creative force Henrikh Mkhitaryan to come to the fore at United but he’s looking very good this term. The Armenian forward has already created four assists for his teammates and played 173 minutes, which shows you Jose now fully trusts Mkhitaryan. His passing average is slightly above 90% per game!

At the moment the tactic seems to be keeping the ball and bossing possession for this Man Utd side. They are also creating plenty of chances. It was actually a similar story for the Red Devils last season but they couldn’t kill games off, that looks to have changed in this campaign.

They’ve scored five of their eight goals in the last ten minutes of the match. That’s because they are persistent and run opposition defences ragged.

A big part of their play has been young forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Rashford may still be looking for his first goal of the season but it’s his tireless running that has benefited his team. He runs at defenders, pulls markers from pillar to post and gets the ball into the channels. His runs are unselfish and they have an impact on his opposite number.

Mourinho then brings off the nineteen year old Englishman and replaces him with French internationalist Martial. The former Monaco man then stretches the opponents with his direct runs and electric pace. An already tired defence simply can’t cope and Anthony has helped himself to two goals and an assist in just twenty-six minutes of top flight football this term! His runs on the left also frees up more space for the other forwards as well as the onrushing Pogba.

When the Champions League starts, I fully expect Jose to rotate the two youngsters but it should have the same effect as long as the starter is willing to run all day.

It’s all very well keeping possession and scoring goals but we should also applaud the Man Utd defence who have yet to concede a league goal.

Goalkeeper David de Gea is a world-class performer and he gives those ahead of them lots of confidence.

As I’ve already stated, new boy Matic adds balance and protects his back four perfectly. He’s really settled in well and gives the United midfield an edge they missed last term.

The duo of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones seem to offer the best partnership in central defence. They compliment each other and both give 100% in every game. If they can keep Jones fit that will be a big bonus as he’s great when he can get a run of games together.

The full-backs offer something different too. They are they to defend first and both are well versed on that side of their game.

Antonio Valencia offer lost of running down the flanks and he likes to get into the last third and whip balls into the box.

While on the left Dutchman Danny Blind has good vision and he offers a nice range of passes. Blind will often fire the ball in early, much like David Beckham of yesteryear.

All in all, Manchester United are looking like an exciting outfit this year. Mourinho has them well drilled but he’s also allowing them to express themselves a bit more. They have a young vibrant feel about them and a work ethic that grinds teams down too.

It should also be noted that the squad also possess a good strength in depth, with many like for like replacements available to Jose Mourinho if he needs them.

Could it be another trophy laden year at Old Trafford?

Well it’s certainly looking promising from the start!

Nemanja Matic Will Make Paul Pogba Better At Man United

Paul Pogba had a decent season at Manchester United last year but many thought he would have been  better.

Sometimes it’s hard to manage expectations when you sign for a club with an £89m fee attached. In the end the French midfielder scored five goals and created four assists in the Premier League.

In many games Pogba looked restrained and a bit confused about his role within the team. He seemed unsure if he was to be creative or hold his position or sit back and protect the defence.

In all truthfulness the Les Bleus midfielder isn’t a holding player, his tackling isn’t the best (nor the worst) and he’s not disciplined enough to stick to marshalling in front of the defence.

Jose Mourinho identified that he had to bring in a player who had the defensive nous to compliment Pogba. In essence he needed a defensive midfielder who would give Man Utd’s number six license to roam.

The Portuguese manager clearly thought back to his Chelsea days and decided that Nemanja Matic would be the ideal signing.

Many were surprised that Chelsea’s heirarchy sanctioned the £40m sale. Blues boss Antonio Conte was clearly miffed by the sale:

‘Matic knows very well what I think about him.’

‘The importance for me about this player, who is a really good player, a top player, very important for our team, but sometimes you must accept this crazy transfer market.’

‘And sometimes you must accept different decisions. But he is a great loss for us.’

Matic is a very intelligent player, who remains disciplined in front of his defenders. He’s gets about the pitch well, gets challenges in and makes interceptions. Interestingly he doesn’t get noticed by the referee much, last season he only picked up four yellow cards and zero reds in the Premier League.

His game isn’t all about his defensive qualities either. The Serbian created seven top flight assists last term, that was more than Pogba. He also enjoyed an 87% passing success rate in the Chelsea midfield. He also has a good passing range and isn’t just a holding player who gets the ball and gives it to his nearest teammate.

At 6ft 4, the middleman adds even more height in an already tall United side. He also brings a winning mentality, plenty of top level experience and importantly he knows exactly what Mourinho wants from him!

In his Premier League debut for the Red Devils, Matic showed his class and also showed us that he can help get more out of midfield maestro Paul Pogba.

Matic’s defend first attitude means the Pogba can venture further forward without worrying about anything behind him. The former Juventus man didn’t have that luxury last season and that’s where the confusion started.

In their first league game together they worked hard as a partnership with each player knowing their role within the team. Magic fitted into his new surroundings seamlessly and the new freedom for Pogba saw him get on the scoresheet and win the man of the match award.

That led to Paul coming out and praising his new teammate:

‘Against West Ham, Matic was starting behind and I could worry more about attacking. I feel good playing that way,’

The way the duo helped control the game should cause other sides in England’s top tier to be fearful. United’s engine room won’t be as easy to breakdown and there’s now an added threat of an unleashed creative force in Paul Pogba.

It’s strange but one of the key points to Nemanja Matic’s game is that he allows other players, Pogba in particular, to flourish and it worked wonders last weekend.

That kind of balance and harmony in midfield could see the two bossing so many midfield battles and should see Manchester United challenging once again for the Premier League trophy!

Hearts Clash Already A Crucial Game For Pedro Caixinha’s Rangers

This weekend will see Scottish Premiership sides compete in the third set of futures of the season.

Rangers made a good start with an away win over Motherwell but they came crashing down to earth when they lost to Neil Lennon’s Hibernian side at Ibrox last week.

Some will blame the defeat to Hibs on refereeing decisions but the fact is Rangers once again looked edgy and inconsistent. The loss was a difficult one for Gers manager Pedro Caixinha to take.

The Portuguese boss now needs to get his side back on track and he can do that this weekend against Hearts.

The Jambos have also had a mixed start to the season. After a crushing loss to Celtic, Hearts then went on to beat Kilmarnock 1-0 at Rugby Park.

The Edinburgh club are currently looking for a new head coach, after sacking Ian Cathro just before the season started. They looked poor against Dunfermline in the League Cup and also at Celtic Park.

But they have enough in their squad to make it difficult for Rangers on Saturday.

For the Ibrox side, nothing but a home win will be acceptable.

The Gers fans want to see signs that Pedro can get consistency from his new look squad. They were humiliated when Rangers were dumped out of the Europa League by Luxembourg’s Progres Niederkorn. Things looked brighter after some good preseason results. Against Motherwell and Dunfermline, Rangers looked great in spells and they’ve also looked better at the back.

Then the Hibs result happened and it was certainly a bad one for all associated with the Glasgow giants.

The important thing is how they now react to that slip up.

As a team, they can’t allow refereeing decisions (good or bad) dictate how games go. They need to be mentally prepared for such events and deal with them when they arise.

They still seem to lack firepower up top.

Alfredo Morelos clearly has potential but he’s still young and raw. He will need another hitman in to take on some of the goalscoring responsibilities.

At the moment Eduardo Herrera is finding it difficult to adapt to the Scottish game. Against Motherwell the Mexican just couldn’t really get into the game and wasn’t a focal point to the team’s attack. At times it looked as if Kenny Miller was doing the work of two men in attack.

So I think another forward with British football experience would benefit this Gers squad.

I also feel that the side can win the ball back in earlier opportunities. They need to grab games by the scruff of the neck, dominate them and make teams fear them.

At the moment you still see opposition teams easing their way into games against Rangers. Rangers start with a high tempo but then their opponents come back into it. During those moments you should see the ‘Light Blues’ spring quick counters and constantly have their opposite numbers on edge.

At this current moment, Rangers don’t need to win with style. No what they need is to constantly win games, go on a run and find the confidence that goes with a winning run.

They need to get over the Hibs disappointment straight away and get a vital win over an unpredictable Hearts side! If they can do that then they might have the character to do well this term, if they can’t then more people will be questioning Pedro Caixinha’s credentials.

Davinson Sánchez Would Be A Great Spurs Signing If Used Correctly

 

As of yet Tottenham Hotspur are the only English Premier League side who have still to part with any cash this summer.

The North London club are supposedly interested in Ross Barkley, Serge Aurier and Denis Suarez.

But according to news reports the Lilywhites could be close to purchasing Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez. A fee of £36m to £40m has been mentioned.

I think a move for the Colombian could be a very good one for Spurs as long as they get his role right within the team.

Sanchez enjoyed a terrific year with the Dutch giants last term and in particular he shone in their Europa League run, which only ended in the final against Manchester United.

Davinson is a fast central defender and that would be a key reason in Mauricio Pochettino identifying the player as a top target.

As we know Spurs like to play with a high-line at the back and use goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as a makeshift sweeper. In doing so they need quick, alert defenders who can mop up if anyone in the defensive unit makes a mistake.

He’d be a perfect foil for either of Tottenham’s current centre-backs Toby Alderweirdeld or Jan Vertonghen. The two Belgians also enjoyed spells at Ajax.

Sanchez has other attributes that caught my eye last season during De Godenzonen’s Europa League run.

He’s very decent in the air. The young Colombian won on average 2.5 aerial battles per game in 2016/17. That was a lot more than Alderweirdeld won over the course of last season.

Davinson also enjoyed a 88.9% passing success rate in the Eredivise, showing us that’s he’s composed on the ball and able to find a teammate from the back. That was a better stat than either Toby or Jan could muster at White Hart Lane last year.

In his twelve Europa League appearances the Colombian internationalist made an impressing 3.3 tackles per game and 2.6 interceptions.

He can also be a danger in the opposition penalty area too. he notched up six league goals in thirty-two domestic matches.

Now while I praise the player I should offer a note of caution. He’s still very raw, which will actually please Pochettino as he can then mould the player if he so wishes. But given that I’m unsure he’d go straight into the Tottenham first eleven.

That would be difficult enough given the form of Alderweirdeld and Vertonghen. Giving Sanchez six months to adjust, bringing him on in league games and starting in League Cup outings could work wonders.

Then in the second half of the season, Mauricio could maybe change things up a bit and play with three at the back instead of a four. It worked for Spurs at different stages last season.

With Kevin Wimmer talking to West Brom over a £15m move then there will definitely be space for Davinson Sanchez at Tottenham Hotspur. If Daniel Levy can finally conclude a deal this summer and bring in the Ajax starlet then it will represent good business as long as they are careful not to stall his development and also don’t rush him straight into the first team starting line-up.

Levy better act fast though because if Real Madrid join the chase then Spurs could come up empty handed again in this transfer window!

Can Leigh Griffiths Be Celtic’s Leading Striker This Season?

 

Last summer Moussa Dembele hit the ground running when he arrived at Celtic Park.

The young striker managed to score thirty-two times for the Hoops, including a famous Scottish Premiership hat-trick against rivals Rangers. He helped the Glasgow giants secure the domestic treble and his form won him a call-up to the French under-21 squad.

In January, Dembele was linked with a £30m move to Chelsea and this summer AC Milan, Arsenal and Marseille all reportedly had an interest in the player.

So you might find it funny to learn that a growing number within Celtic’s fanbase believe that Leigh Griffiths deserves to be leading the line for the Scottish champions ahead of the young Frenchman this season.

The Scottish internationalist run amok last night as Celtic thumped FC Astana in their Champions League play-off first leg encounter.

Griffiths will claim the fifth goal as it was his shot that deflected off of Igor Shitov and sailed into the net. The marksman led the line with almost perfection and had a big hand in creating goals for Scott Sinclair and James Forrest.

In the last twelve months, Leigh has improved various facets of his game.

Previously many questioned if he could play up-top alone or succeed in the bigger games. Now he is muscling much bigger defenders out of the way, running tirelessly into the channels or behind the defence and he is still grabbing goals. His hold up play has gone from near nonexistent to great within a such a short space of time too.

He is clearly a player who has always had a tremendous amount of confidence in his own ability. His two free-kicks for Scotland against the Auld Enemy England in June showed the world that Leigh will always back himself in tight situations.

Last term Brendan Rodgers came in and made Dembele his number one attacker, the new manager also preferred playing with just one striker. But instead of moaning and going in a huff, Griffiths kept his head down and when he got his chance he took it.

In the second half of last season’s invincible year, Dembele’s form dipped and he looked a bit sluggish. The club’s number nine came in and gave the attack a new lease of life. He would end the campaign with eighteen goals in thirty-five appearances.

So far in this new season he has bagged four in five games, not bad for someone just coming back from a calf injury.

Celtic captain Scott Brown was full of praise for the hitman after his Astana showing:

“It isn’t just about Leigh’s goal, it is about his hold-up play and what he does for the team,”

 “A couple of years ago, Leigh would have been taken shots whenever he had the ball up there but you see his link-up play now, it is of the highest level.”

Leigh Griffiths’ performances in the last eight months have been a joy to watch. He has clearly developed into a fine striker. I like the fact that he’s clearly worked on his weaknesses and now it’s very tough to point any out.

One thing that he will have to constantly keep in check is certain lifestyle, fitness and disciplinary issues. Rodgers warned the player in January that he had to shape up. You then had the UEFA charge after the Linfield game earlier in the summer. I believe Griffiths is learning his lessons and will hopefully stay away from anymore trouble this season but you just never know with this particular player.

So can Leigh keep his place or will Dembele come straight back into the team when he regains full fitness?

Personally I think at the moment it’s Griffiths position to lose. If he continues to play like he did last night then I can’t see Brendan dumping the Scottish forward. It would rock the player’s confidence and wouldn’t be great for team morale.

Competition should breed better performances. Knowing that Dembele is waiting for his place should spur Griffiths on even more. If he messes up or suffers in form then I have no doubts that Moussa will come in and replace him.

Personally I’d like to see the two forwards together on the pitch more often. They seem to enjoy a good understanding and link up well together whenever they’ve played alongside one another. Neither of them is overly selfish and they understand when the other is in a better position. But alas the Celtic manager seems intent to sticking with his one up-top philosophy.

It’s great to see a Scottish striker improving and understanding his role more. At twenty-six years of age Leigh Griffths can still develop further and hopefully he’ll do that this season!

 

Arsenal Could Get Best Season Out Of Alexis Sanchez

It seems that Arsenal and their main striking star Alexis Sanchez have reached a bit of an impasse.

The Chilean international reportedly wants to quit the Gunners, while the North London club want to tie the forward down to a longer term deal.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has went on the record to state that they won’t sell Sanchez this summer:

‘The decision has been made and we will stick to that. The decision is not to sell,’

Arsenal have previously sold off talent that have entered into the last year of their deals as they didn’t want to lose them on a free transfer during the next summer, most notably Robin van Persie. The Van Persie deal saw the Gunners receive a lot of stick as he went on to win the Premier League with his new side Manchester United.

Arsenal fans won’t want to see that happening again especially as they know Manchester City are extremely interested in their star.

With TV income revenues reaching an all time high, the Arsenal board don’t really need to worry about finances and can keep hold of Sanchez if Wenger believes that’s the best thing for the team.

Now I think holding Alexis to his contract and keeping at the Emirates for one final season could end up being a stroke of genius on Arsene’s part. As long as the Frenchman and his club’s hierarchy hold their nerve and don’t get lured into accepting offers in the upcoming weeks, especially if they can’t get a ready-made replacement in.

Getting a top calibre talent in to replace Sanchez could prove to be impossible this summer. The very best players want Champions League football and the Gunners can’t offer that this term. They will also cost at least £80m to £90m to get in the door. I doubt the Premier League club will get the same in for the Chilean this month.

By keeping the forward in the capital for one more year, Arsenal will have a player that will still need to prove his talents this season. See the thing is that to get the best wage and to keep the best clubs interested in his signature, Sanchez has to keep playing at his optimum level.

That should see him matching or even improving on his impressive twenty-four league goals and ten assists that he recorded last year.

Sanchez might feel aggrieved this month and he may have an injury for the rest of the August just so he doesn’t play before the end of the of the transfer window in the hope of forcing through a move. But if he’s still a Gooner come September then I don’t doubt he will give his all for the Arsenal fans and the jersey.

Once he’s back up to speed then I would fully expect to see Alexis Sanchez making an impact and Arsenal will hope that he can help them in a title challenge.

Next summer?

Well I’d imagine the twenty-eight year old will still want to leave the Emirates and he will be paid handsomely by one of his many suitors. Until then Sanchez will need to give his all at Arsenal to keep himself relevant because a year is a long time in football!

Celtic’s Armstrong Should Sort Out Contract Saga & Concentrate On Football

You can tell that the current contract negotiations between Celtic and midfielder Stuart Armstrong are playing on his mind.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers believes that the whole saga has been played out for too long now:

“This is a simple deal that should have been sorted out before the end of last season.”

“Now it’s dragged on and on and on way too long for what, with all due respect, is a simple deal. Christ, it’s not a big multi multi-million pound deal.”

The fact we are still discussing this issue eight months after it was first classed as news shows you how long uncertainly has been in the player’s mind.

Stuart has to decide what he wants.

If the Scottish internationalist wants to stay at Celtic Park, then he tells his agent to sort out a deal as soon as possible and he tells Brendan that he’s staying. Then he goes into training knowing that he’s going to stay.

If Armstrong wants to leave and earn more in the English Premier League, which he’s entitled to do, then he instructs his advisors to tell Celtic that he’s leaning towards a move away and that gives the club an opportunity to cash in on their asset. Again that clears his mind and he can carry on with his career.

Now if the creative middle-man is still in two minds as what to do next with his career, then I’d suggest he looks at Scott Brown and Victor Wanyama.

This is now Brown’s eleventh season at Parkhead. He has become the club’s captain, has played in more European games than any other Celtic star and has won seven league titles. Scott’s still one of the best performing players in the Scottish Premiership, he decided not to move down south and doesn’t seem to regret that decision.

On the other hand you have Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan joined Celtic always with the idea of then moving to the  Premier League. The battling midfielder did well in the Champions League with the Hoops, won league championships and after two seasons in Glasgow he left in a £12.5m deal to Southampton. He also impressed with the Saints and he again won a multi-million pound move, this time to Tottenham Hotspur and now he’s back playing Champions League football.

These two examples show ex-Dundee United man Armstrong that staying at Celtic has big advantages and leaving Celtic doesn’t mean you go on a downward curve in your career. As long as you have the talent you can do well and continue to do well.

So really I think Stuart Armstrong has to get together with his agent and decide on what he wants and what to do next. Then he can once again concentrate on his football and start having an impact once again!